Associate Professor in Ageing & Public Health at the University of Stirling
Despite the pandemic, older people feel confident to attend healthcare appointments when invited, and this group is not put off by fears of contracting COVID-19 – which is particularly important as we head into the winter season.
Dr Elaine Douglas said: “Whatever discussions are underway regarding NHS COVID-19 recovery or NHS reform, we see a pattern of fear related to chronic health conditions over COVID-19 coming to the fore in our findings. Older people are concerned with having access to GP and hospital services and fears of COVID-19 are not deterring them from attending appointments or treatments.
“At the start of the pandemic we saw a drop off in people engaging with healthcare settings, so it is very encouraging to see a renewed confidence in entering these settings to receive the care they need. Despite the pandemic, older people feel confident to attend healthcare appointments when invited, and that this group is not put off by fears of contracting COVID-19 – which is particularly important as we head into the winter season. Hesitancy to attend appointments does not appear to be a barrier to addressing the NHS backlog caused by the impacts of pandemic.
“These findings are important to the NHS and other health services and provide important insights for policy and public health messaging. Older people may be reassured by hearing more about the ways in which plans for recovery from the pandemic will address access to services to manage chronic health conditions.”
The research is part of the Healthy Ageing in Scotland (HAGIS) study, set up by Dr Douglas and economist Professor David Bell, which follows older people over time, collecting data on their health, economic and social circumstances.
Dr Douglas worked alongside Professor Bell on the project, as well as Stirling colleagues: health psychologist, Dr Lesley McGregor and social scientists Dr Tamara Brown, Dr Alan Duggan and Professor Louise McCabe.